So how was your Sunday?
Just when you thought it might be a relatively controversy-free NFL Sunday, the national anthem protest issue was thrown right back in the spotlight in Indianapolis with a little help from the Vice President. Also, Aaron Rodgers dropped the Dallas Cowboys for their third loss of the year, and the Giants and Texans each had key players go down with significant injuries.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a regular season monster that cannot be stopped
Remember opening night when the Kansas City Chiefs brought an abrupt end to any talk about the New England Patriots running the table this season? Well, don’t look now, but the Chiefs are starting to look like a team that might be pretty difficult to beat this season.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) October 9, 2017
I feel confident in saying the Chiefs will not go undefeated this season, but they are 5-0 with a clean 3-0 record away from Arrowhead after their 42-34 victory against the upstart Houston Texans on Sunday night. Alex Smith is making the Chiefs drafting of Patrick Mahomes look a little premature after tossing three touchdowns and going for 324 yards in the win.
Despite a worthy effort by rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to help bring the Texans to within six points in the fourth quarter (26-20), the Chiefs built a 19-point lead in a flash with a Smith touchdown pass to De’Anthony Thomas and an 82-yard punt return by Tyreek Hill.
Tyreek Hill is absurd https://t.co/Ughz10FR3G
— Matt Clapp (@Matt2Clapp) October 9, 2017
As for Watson (who was kind to his fantasy football owners with some brilliant garbage time touchdowns) and the Texans, college football people like myself tried telling the NFL crowd how good he can be.
CFB fans as NFL fans realize Deshaun Watson is really good: pic.twitter.com/rGWd2zNbcF
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) October 9, 2017
Of course, the big news on Sunday for the Texans was the loss of defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt was taken to a hospital by ambulance after leaving the game with what would later be announced to be a broken leg. The Texans were a bit more specific with the diagnosis.
Update: DE J.J. Watt has suffered a tibial plateau fracture to his left leg.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 9, 2017
That doesn’t sound good for the Texans star, who played just three games last season. And considering his outstanding humanitarian outreach this year for hurricane victims in Houston and the surrounding region, an injury like this proves there are no football gods watching from above. Football devils, however, could be a different story.
The Giants are going to out-tank the Jets, aren’t they?
The New York Giants took yet another loss on Sunday, and this one was extra painful for the franchise. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was carted off the field with about four minutes to play in a tight contest with the Los Angeles Chargers. OBJ was visibly shaken by the injury as he came off the field, and reports have stated he suffered a broken ankle. The injury likely will require surgery and that could mean his season could already be done after a bumpy five-game stretch.
Seeing the Giants lose yet another wide receiver, a couple of former NFL receivers put the word out on Twitter that they were willing to take a phone call.
@Giants Hey big head
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) October 8, 2017
Hey @Giants let me know if you need an interim wide receiver!
— Terrell Owens (@terrellowens) October 8, 2017
Immediately after Beckham was carted off the field, Eli Manning fumbled away the football and the Chargers capitalized with a go-ahead touchdown. The Chargers held on for the 27-22 victory to pick up their first win of the year, while the Giants are now in the same category as the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. That is not the company you want to keep at this point in the season, but the Giants show almost no ability to pull themselves out of a giant mess right now.
And now the focus of the franchise could quickly turn to setting up a new big board for the NFL Draft in 2018 and make some big decisions next spring. For starters, is it time to seriously consider finding a new quarterback to replace Manning at some point in the near future? If so, then could the Giants steal away all of the draft speculation that had been geared toward the New York Jets, a franchise that has been in desperate need of a quarterback for years?
— Ty Hildenbrandt (@tyhildenbrandt) October 8, 2017
Wouldn’t it be just the Jets’ luck to suck enough to get a good quality quarterback in the draft, only to have that player land in the laps of the Giants? The Jets did their part to separate themselves from the ruble of the NFL by scoring a 17-14 victory in Cleveland, dropping the Browns to 0-5. The Jets now have three wins for the season.
Vice President rekindles the fire over national anthem protests and missed out on an overtime game
The Indianapolis Colts were honoring former quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday, and none other than Vice President Mike Pence was on hand to celebrate the career achievements of Manning. many of which came in a Colts uniform. Pence, the former Governor of Indianapolis, put out the word on Twitter that he would be attending the Colts game.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
He didn’t stay for very long. After a sizable number of players from the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the national anthem, Pence and his group made their way to the exits in what has been suspected to be a planned walkout, given the security detail tied to the sequence of events from various reports in Indianapolis. Pence took to Twitter to say he left after seeing the flag disrespected by NFL players.
I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
This, of course, was backed by President Donald Trump with his own tweet.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Two weeks ago, comments by the president at a rally in Alabama sparked the largest pregame demonstration league-wide the NFL had seen since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem. That started a movement to raise awareness for social injustice issues around the country.
Last week, there was a noticeable decrease in the demonstrations throughout the league, but for whatever reason, the administration has opted to go about igniting the issue a little bit more. Personally, I find this a little ironic considering one of the biggest complaints from those against the anthem protestors was that they were demonstrating on the NFL’s time. Now, here we have the Vice President and the White House essentially coordinating a staged walkout at an NFL game.
Say what you will, but it feels a bit odd for the White House to essentially use the Colts — according to a column by Gregg Doyel of The Indy Star, the Colts had no clue Pence was leaving early — to stage their political war against those who are expressing their First Amendment right.
Make no mistake about this. This was strategically planned to do exactly what it did, and taxpayers are going to pay for it.
A statement by the President: pic.twitter.com/fYxLN38x9C
— Real Press Sec. (@RealPressSecBot) October 8, 2017
The media pool was kept in the vans ahead of the game instead of being led in with VPOTUS. https://t.co/NXIFZCp3fb
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) October 8, 2017
And spent our money having the secret service secure the stadium for the Vice President of the United States.
So he could leave.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 8, 2017
Pence: "Oh, they're playing the NINERS? And Andrew Luck is still hurt? I'm out of here…" https://t.co/gUF1qsEZDQ
— Roy Burton (@TheBSLine) October 8, 2017
Then there was this incredibly strong take from Peter King of Sports Illustrated that suggests this is a decision that Pence will have to live with for the rest of his life, because we’re not already going overboard enough with the heated opinions on this subject.
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) October 9, 2017
I think the White House and Pence were wrong to go out of their way to secure Lucas Oil Stadium and inconvenience everyone going to and working at the game when he knew he had no intention of staying.
Having been to a number of Army-Navy Games over the years, I have an understanding of just how much control the secret service and other authorities take into providing the necessary security for the president or vice-president, and it is an extra hassle for all involved. But I think Pence has many other concerns that should keep him awake tossing and turning at night before even thinking about how this tarnished Peyton Manning’s day.
— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) October 8, 2017
In somewhat related news, I’m pretty sure Brent Musburger lost a few bucks on the 49ers-Colts game, which was won by the Colts in overtime.
Yo #49ers Since you instigated protest, 2 wins and 19 losses. How about taking your next knee in the other team's end zone ?
— Brent Musburger (@brentmusburger) October 9, 2017
OK, that’s enough about this. Let’s get back to everything else that happened on Sunday, shall we?
The NFL Blitz
Packers 35, Cowboys 31: The Packers and Cowboys traded blows in the fourth quarter of a wild NFC matchup, but it was Aaron Rodgers who would get the last laugh with a 12-yard pass to Davante Adams with just 11 seconds left to play in the game for a 35-31 lead.
— NFL (@NFL) October 8, 2017
The last-second win improved the Packers to 4-1 on the season. Rodgers was typically excellent with three touchdowns and no interceptions, although the Cowboys did bring him down four times. The game-winning score was the second touchdown of the game for Adams, who led Green Bay with 66 receiving yards. The Packers managed to turn aside a Dallas effort which included Dak Prescott tossing three touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 116 yards. Jason Witten continued to be a leader with a team-high eight receptions and 61 yards.
The Cowboys are now 2-3 and have as many losses this season as they did all of last season.
Seahawks 16, Rams 10: The Los Angeles Rams had been humming along just fine this season, but on Sunday in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the young up-and-coming franchise got a dose of reality in a defensive NFC West battle with Seattle. Jared Goff was picked off twice and Todd Gurley lost a hold of a potential touchdown, resulting in an early momentum-shifting touchback for the Seahawks. The Rams had five turnovers in the game.
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to two second-half field goals but the Seahawks struggled to capitalize on a few mistakes by the Rams. Either way, the Seahawks returned home with a win and now sit on top of the division thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. Seattle is also the only team in the division to not allow 100+ points this season. The Seahawks have allowed 87 points so far; the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams have allowed 120, 125, and 121 points, respectively.)
Panthers 27, Lions 24: In his first game since digging himself a public relations hole with his response to a female reporter, Cam Newton played a big game against the Detroit Lions. Newton passed for 355 yards and three touchdowns, outplaying the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, Matthew Stafford (229 yards, 2 TDs). But it was the Carolina defense that ruled the day by allowing just 242 yards of offense by the Lions, who at least made things interesting with a fourth-quarter rally.
The Panthers have a short week to prepare for their next home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. Speaking of the Eagles…
Eagles 34, Cardinals 7: The Eagles have looked darn good to start the season. They are clearly better than they were a year ago. On Sunday, they may have played their finest game under second-year head coach Doug Pederson with Carson Wentz passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns, including this fun score by Nelson Agholor (who channeled his inner DeSean Jackson to celebrate the touchdown).
I also particularly enjoyed this touchdown celebration (and thank you, NFL, for loosening up the celebration rules this season).
Who said baseball season is over in Philly? https://t.co/vNfS0J2xhl
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) October 8, 2017
Jaguars 30, Steelers: Can you figure out which Jaguars team is going to show up on a week-by-week basis, because I sure cannot. I’m done placing many confidence points one way or the other on a game involving the Jags because I get burned each way it seems. But this dude, Leonard Fournette? He can ball.
Leonard Fournette made (and ruined) a lot of fantasy weeks with this 90-yard TD run. pic.twitter.com/Jd9OhlIHc2
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 8, 2017
Ben Roethlisberger was picked off five times and after the game mentioned that maybe his best football days have been left behind. However, he seemed to be pretty short with the media so I’m not sure exactly how much stock we should put in the comment, although it will surely be discussed at length.
Big Ben: "Maybe I don't have it anymore."
— Ƒunhouse (@BackAftaThis) October 8, 2017
Bengals 20, Bills 16: The Bills had no answers for Bengals receiver A.J. Green. Green caught seven passes for 189 yards and a touchdown, including a 77-yard touchdown early in the first quarter on Cincinnati’s first offensive possession. Tyrod Taylor said after the game that he’d take full responsibility for not getting the Bills offense moving.
Ravens 30, Raiders 17: Without Derek Carr, the Raiders look like a completely different team, but that doesn’t excuse the defense for allowing the Ravens to do whatever they wanted after scoring a combined 16 points the last two weeks.
Dolphins 16, Titans 10: The Titans were without Marcus Mariota, and the Dolphins couldn’t even celebrate the win for very long before having to address a video of offensive line coach Chris Foerster allegedly snorting a white substance.
This is the video supposedly of Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting coke before a meeting pic.twitter.com/L7ZsdZMH7U
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) October 9, 2017
All your rowdy friends are coming over tonight
Tune in to Monday Night Football tonight to watch Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky make his first NFL start. (And stick around at halftime for the new Star Wars trailer.) Trubisky was the first quarterback taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, and given the success already seen by Deshaun Watson and Deshone Kizer getting some starts in Cleveland, there is some pressure for the rookie to prove his worth in Chicago. The Bears hope Trubisky will provide a spark on offense and improve over Mike Glennon.
The Vikings look to scratch their way by without Sam Bradford (questionable)) and rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Both teams are coming off losses in division play last week, and neither team is averaging more than 19.8 points per game. So watch this one at your own risk.